Prosody and Syntax: Introduction to Contiguity Theory

Course time: 
Tuesday/Friday 3:30-5:20 PM

A standard claim in current work in syntax is that languages vary in what kinds of overt movement they exhibit.  We standardly say, for example, that English has overt wh-movement, and Japanese does not; French has overt head-movement of the verb to T in tensed clauses, and English does not; English has movement triggered by the classic EPP, which requires TP to have a specifier, and Italian does not; and so forth.  

Work in syntax has uncovered a number of these apparently distinct kinds of movement, and has made numerous discoveries about their properties, the locality conditions they exhibit, and the effects they have on other syntactic dependencies, among many other things.  But there is no generally accepted explanatory account of why a given language will possess this or that type of overt movement; in Minimalism, for example, we standardly resort to diacritic features ("strong features" and their theoretical descendants).  

In this class we will explore a proposal about the conditions driving the distribution of overt movement.  The central claim will be that syntax is permitted to make more reference to phonological structure than we are used to, and that movement operations can be triggered by the need to produce phonologically acceptable objects.  A central goal will be to understand the syntax-phonology interface in a way which makes this type of interaction between phonology and syntax possible.  Topics will include accounts of the distribution of wh-movement, head-movement, and EPP effects, and of the conditions on pied-piping in A-bar movement.